By Jessica Allen - Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
The people have spoken. And they love The Hunger Games, and Zac Efron.
Here are the highlights from the 39th People’s Choice Awards, which allows fans to vote for their favourite films. This gives actors like Zac Efron the chance to win Favourite Dramatic Movie Actor. (Winners are highlighted.)
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- The Avengers
- The Dark Knight Rises
- The Hunger Games
- Snow White and the Huntsman
- Channing Tatum
- Johnny Depp
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Robert Downey, Jr.
- Will Smith
By Brian Bethune - Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM - 0 Comments
Newmakers 2012: There’s no denying Suzanne Collins’s heroine hit the zeitgeist right in the sweet spot
Katniss Everdeen has had a very good 2012, and deservedly so. The heroine of The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins’s highly popular trilogy of young adult novels (2008-10), already had a devoted fan base as the year began, but she exploded into a genuine pop-culture phenomenon with the March release of the film version of the first volume. Now Katniss is not only beloved by millions of teen girls—and a few boys (her film avatar, after all, is Jennifer Lawrence)—she’s also fodder for serious social commentary. American journalist Hanna Rosin, in an interview about her book The End of Men and the Rise of Women, paused while discussing the profound socio-economic changes unfolding in her country, from the erosion of traditional marriage to women’s increasing confidence and even aggression, to call Katniss an iconic figure. “She’s a classic aggressive male provider: unpleasant, self-sufficient, a total protector of her family. Those are all things that we associate with men. Twenty years ago, Katniss would have been a bizarre and unacceptable character, and now she seems completely natural.”
There’s no denying Katniss hit the zeitgeist right in the sweet spot. She’s the 16-year-old daughter of a dead coal miner who keeps her mother and beloved 12-year-old sister Primrose fed by her skill at archery (and poaching). They live in near-future Panem, an authoritarian state risen from the ashes of ecological catastrophe: worsening climate, rising sea levels and resource wars. The residents of the ruling Capitol, living in high-tech splendour, tyrannize the hardscrabble provincials, forcing each of 12 outlying districts to annually send a male child and a female child, aged 12-18, to ﬁght in the televised Hunger Games until only one remains alive.
Teenagers put in an arena to literally kill each other for the amusement of grown-ups is as savage a satire of reality TV and high school as can be imagined. (For adolescent girls, who live in a social milieu potentially even more vicious than that of boys, the appeal is obvious.) But if The Hunger Games is a pitch-perfect dystopia for our era of superstorms and economic uncertainty, it’s merely riding a wave of such storylines. Current YA fiction is dominated by dystopias, both the classic form, featuring harshly repressive societies, and post-apocalyptic scenes of chaos, all with climatic catastrophe as their root cause. The characters in the most popular series are far more often female than in past adventure stories, and the girls all have kick-ass potential, even if Katniss—who can fire an arrow through a songbird at 200 m—kicks harder than most. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Monday, April 2, 2012 at 11:38 AM - 0 Comments
A frightening story about kids killing other kids for the amusement of adults has become a blockbuster. Here’s why.
Imagine a life where possibilities are opening at a speed that veers unpredictably between exhilarating and terrifying. The familiar, precisely because it’s familiar and safe, still tugs at you, but even so, you want out because your old life constricts as much as it comforts. Besides, your social milieu, which often feels like an endless struggle to achieve, or resist being slotted into some arbitrary niche—pretty, ugly, smart, dumb, athlete, klutz—is changing fast. You feel driven—by inner need and outside pressure—to make choices. Meanwhile, the manipulative, often harsh, powers that be, who created the larger world they’re busy shoving you into, have clearly not done a bang-up job of it, either in their personal lives or as part of society. And they want you to get out there and ﬁx their mistakes—just at a moment when worry over the imminent demise of their entire socio-economic structure is never far from the surface. It can be cruel and scary out there. Dystopian, even.
Chances are, anyone not imagining this life, but actually living it, is a teenager. And living it in an era of economic uncertainty, conspiracy theories and fear of environmental collapse. Western civilization used to produce literary utopias, but in the past century of world wars, ﬁnancial panics, murderous totalitarian regimes and nuclear threat, dystopias have outnumbered sunny projections by several orders of magnitude. Pessimistic depictions of the future are now everywhere in popular culture. Teens and teen books are not immune to larger trends in society.
By Brian Bethune - Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 8:33 AM - 0 Comments
‘Mockingjay,’ the final volume, is getting the full J.K. Rowling-Dan Brown treatment
You don’t have to have read or even heard of American author Suzanne Collins’s teen trilogy, The Hunger Games, to recognize a pop-culture phenomenon unfolding. Mockingjay, the final volume, is getting the full J.K. Rowling-Dan Brown treatment. All 1.2 million copies were held under tight wraps, with no advance versions available before its Aug. 24 release, and over 100 bookstores in Canada alone held midnight release parties the night before. While they waited, Collins’s fans—and, with sales of the first two volumes, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, topping four million copies in North America, there are a lot of them—were whiling away the time fantasy-casting for the upcoming movie version. (The current favourite to play the 16-year-old heroine, Katniss Everdeen, is Kick-Ass’s Hit-Girl, Chloe Moretz, 13, who should be able to look the part by the time filming begins.) And then there are the celebrity endorsements: although there isn’t a sexy bloodsucker to be found, vampire queens Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) and True Blood’s Charlaine Harris, not to mention horror master Stephen King, are all serious devotees.